His answers must have appeased them. In March 2012, he was transferred to the facility that houses Thinking for a Change, a program meant to teach social and problem-solving skills to inmates. Completing it is the ticket out of ad seg.

But Clark wasn't able to do that. On June 6, 2012, he was sitting in class when two other inmates got into an argument while giving their "thinking reports" about the virtues of rock music versus rap. By all accounts, Clark helped defuse the situation, but it flared up again later. And it was then that Clark made his mistake. Instead of retreating to the back of the classroom, he jumped over a table, hurtling himself toward the door — but also the fight. As he explained in his discipline hearing, there was a racial undertone to the brawl, and he thought he would be targeted for being black. He ended up in the middle of the fight, and he says he was forced to defend himself.

"This was an impulsive decision that turned out to be a mistake on my behalf," he said at his hearing, according to an audio recording provided to Westword. "It was not my intention to get into a fight. I was honestly trying to get out of the classroom."

Willie Clark.
Willie Clark.
Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2007.
Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2007.

The hearing officer didn't buy it. He found Clark guilty of fighting and "advocating or creating a facility disruption," and two weeks later, another hearing officer decided to put Clark back into solitary confinement. Clark had "led, organized or incited a serious disturbance or riot that resulted in the taking of a hostage, significant property damage, physical harm or loss of life in a correctional setting," the officer ruled, something that warrants putting a prisoner in solitary confinement.

When Clark tried to point out that he didn't do any of those things, the hearing officer cut him off. But the officer did allow him to read part of a letter he wrote: "I recognize that I made a bad decision, but segregation will only have a negative effect on my future facility placement and my personal growth and development. I am working to become the best version of myself, and giving me a chance to make corrections will help me more than locking me down will.... God Bless and Peace and Sincerely, Willie."

The letter is typical of Clark's unfaltering optimism, Owen says, his belief that if he speaks the truth, someone will eventually listen. "Willie believes in the system," she says. "He believes that justice can be achieved through utilizing the channels."

Owen, however, is less sure.

***********

Clark was sent back to ad seg and eventually back to Thinking for a Change, which he completed. But on August 20, the day he and the other Thinking for a Change graduates were supposed to move out of solitary confinement, Clark was told that he wasn't going.

"I called a case manager at [the prison] that day and I was like, 'Are you kidding me?'" Owen recalls. "He's like, 'I don't know. He's earned his way out of here; we don't want to keep him. I don't know what he's still doing here.'"

Owen was told it was "a central office decision." And shortly thereafter, Clark says, he was pulled from his cell and interviewed for possible placement within the DOC's protective-custody unit. That unit is for inmates who are at "substantial risk of serious harm" if placed in the general population. But neither Owen nor Clark thought that level of protection was necessary.

In a letter, Clark says a female prison official asked him whether he'd ever had a problem with Broncos fans. "I told her, 'Not once have I had an issue with anyone in regard to any of my convictions,'" Clark writes. He says he also told her he was "not in any danger, nor am I a danger to anyone," and that he didn't need protective custody.

Owen understands the concern. "But I am unaware, and Willie is unaware, of any specific evidence of a threat posed to him solely because of his crime," she says. "I don't mean to diminish the Department of Corrections' responsibility to ensure prisoners are safely housed. That being said, I don't know if this is one of those situations."

In the end, DOC officials decided not to put Clark in protective custody. Instead, they informed him that they were considering him for a different type of administrative segregation, known as 4B. Of the five levels of ad seg, 4B is the most indefinite; it has no time limit and no means of earning your way out. The regulations simply state that offenders in 4B will be evaluated every six months to see if they're "appropriate for progressive movement."

"I'm repeatedly shocked by how poorly they treat Willie," Owen says. Even though he's obeyed all the rules, even though the prison system itself has described him as "compliant" and "respectful" and his Thinking for a Change instructors have said he was an active student who didn't cause problems, he's being given the harshest punishment. "Willie's ability to withstand this and to continue to file grievances rather than throwing feces bombs is extraordinary," Owen says. "I have been continually impressed with him and continually proud of him for maintaining a higher ground here."

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59 comments
deerogers23
deerogers23

@Stanley1 you don't know Willie Clark and you definitely not God so who are you to judge this man and nobody should be treated like an animal,at the ean of the day people make mistake and im not saying that if you do something wrong you should not be punished be to keep someone locked up in a cage a lot.

anotherthing people you should all realize that it he is guilty he will be judged on judgement day....MAY GOD BLESS YOU WILL AND BELIEVE ME GOD HAS SOMETHIN IN STORE FOR YOU

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

You people have alot of nerves. Y'all just talkin crap cause D. Will (R.I.P.) was a professional football player. D Will (R.I.P.), was a good dude and my potna, Willie is a good dude as well and my homeboy. I don't think my man committed this crime and none of y'all were there to witness him commit this crime. A rat gonna say anything to save his own butt. The cowards that testified against Willie were lookin at serious charges and time as well, so they said wat they said to get outta a messed up siuation (RATS),now for brandon marshall, he's a coward to, talk all that tuff boy street niggah crap and got his teammate, my potna killed. You people think these professional sports players are innocent, knock it off. And until you live 1 day in Willie's shoes or know wats wat, shut the hell up. ALL LOVE WILLIE D. CLARK and R.I.P. D WILL

nuclearlemon
nuclearlemon

Was Clark a drug dealer?  Yes.  Did Clark hang with gang members?  Yes.  Did Clark admit to killing Williams on six occassions?  Yes.  Do I feel at all sorry for him?  Hell no!

It's called consequences folks.  It's what you pay when you screw up.  This article bemoans his intelligence and compassion, but he screwed up and now he's crying because he got caught.

And don't try to claim cruel punishment.  I've no sympathy there and I'm sure the parents of the kids he got addicted to drugs will agree with me.  You worry of his mental health, but what about the mental health of those making him a 'street nigga with money'?

Gang members aren't known for five fingering a pack of gum at the Five and Dime...they're too busy sticking a gun in the face of the clerk.  Assualt, rape, drugs, murder...these are not petty criminals and a smart man knows to stay away. 

You say the prison is being unfair, but they have to protect their pocketbook from the family that I'm sure will be jumping at the opportunity to sue the institution for the death of their 'good, loving, intelligent boy'

This article is the kind of liberal b.s. that's ruining this country.

jbirch713
jbirch713

Believe you me, there are a lot of innocent people behind bars. I have no clue as to if this guy is innocent. People lie all the time, witness pushed and coaxed by cops and prosecutors (dirty fucks). And when the lying ass people come forward and admit to lying. It takes years and years to get them out. For every mothrerfucker out there on the run sits and innocent person behind bars.


rosevango
rosevango

"Administrative segregation is supposed to be used to manage deeply problematic behaviors by prisoners," Wallace says, "and it really should be limited to the most extreme cases, where prisoners have been involved in real violence or credible threats."

Glad to see ACLU weigh in. I correspond a dozen CO DOC inmates, as a member of Committee for Judicial Justice, who formed in response to the Tim Masters' debacle case in Fort Collins. We see how trials are orchestrated, how slow and futile the appellate process is, and hear first hand what segregation is used for. Thank God for the CCJRC, working on reform of sentencing laws in CO. 

rosevango
rosevango

" According to the DOC, ad seg "is an offender management process and is not used as a punitive measure." Prisoners are kept in their cells for 23 hours a day. For one hour, they're allowed to go into a small room, alone, to "exercise." "

The irony in this statement screams for a response. Isolation is punishment. Prolonged isolation is torture.

patricia.calhoun
patricia.calhoun moderator editortopcommenter

i'd like to publish some of these comments in our print edition, ideally with your real name. If that's okay, e-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com

Sam Miller
Sam Miller

I hope that the errors of the article are not from the actual police report

Mnizzle
Mnizzle

"I haven't hugged my mom in over five years and that's not right at all!"

I tell ya' what, Willie - as soon as Darrent Williams' mother gets to hug her son,

we promise ... you're next.

Carlena Martinez
Carlena Martinez

I hate Ray Lewis too. He wasn't treated fairly because he's a football player.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Oh, but you certainly must be after typing such "tough words," tough guy.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Hah. Ray Lewis to this day gets plenty of sympathy and accolades -- from his peers and the general public -- despite having been on the opposite side of the law 13 years ago.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

There isn't enough room in solitary confinement for each and every convicted murderer. (Seriously, I wonder how many armchair pundits here would be willing to pony up the extra 100s of millions to set aside for ad seg. Very few, I would imagine.) Also, the circumstances involved in each individual crime widely vary. What this really is about is a particular individual whose victim happened to be a beloved professional athlete. Had this been an average citizen, his case would not have garnered so much attention (and outrage) from the general public. Frankly, this just proves that regardless of their so-called "principles," people still place status and wealth above all other factors when it comes to the criminal justice system. Just imagine the outcome had the roles of Williams and Clark had been reversed. You'd have a situation similar to that of none other than revered retired NFL linebacker Ray Lewis, who dodged a murder charge 13 years ago after his first Super Bowl win.

luckyruthland
luckyruthland

All i say to say is keep your head up we all know the REAL TRUTH so remember the comments that are being mad on here pay them no mind these people are just making opinions off of something they read wuthout know the person you REALLY are... Besides OPINIONS ARE LIKE ASSHOLE EVERYBODY HAS ONE!!! With that said you know we support you to the fullest FUCK what everybody else thinks... # BOOM!!!

shrena.henderson
shrena.henderson

Reading some of these comments makes me sick ta my stomach some of your mouths need to be confined none not a 1 of u know the true story yet are so quick to comment n or judge damn the man says he is not n a gang I would think n know from experience a gang member REPRESENTS their hood yet I read gangbangin bastard none of you seem him pull the trigger but he is a murdering fuck well all u psychics should have warned Darrent since though u nor I was there u can completely n factually not hypothetically speakin judge this man's guilt or innocents

Peter Hoang
Peter Hoang

"You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners." - FD

Suni Daze
Suni Daze

awwwwww !! Its so nice to read posts that confirm the suffering !! feelin warm and fuzzy inside !!

Miguel Munoz
Miguel Munoz

All I can say is that Colorado prisons are full of Broncos fans ..... but what comes around goes around thats karma so live up for what u did fucking pussy

Mike An Teresa
Mike An Teresa

Did you treat everyone in that limo fairly when you shot it up? Was that fair? Fuck you!! you can rot in that hole for all i care! Why dont you just fucking kill yourself or stop crying pussy!

William Covington
William Covington

ah let him into the population of the best Bronco fans in the prison.

John Mccall
John Mccall

Hey Willie, did you treat Darrent Williams fairly when you murdered him. What goes around, comes around. Don't flatter yourself, you're not the most hated man in Colorado, but you are a murdering asshole, though.

Peter William Goodwin
Peter William Goodwin

Fair treatment is a relative term here. Are we forgetting that he's housed with a bunch of other convicted cons? He should be treated fairly, comparatively.

Brendan Flynn
Brendan Flynn

did you treat your victim fairly? then no. fuck you you little bitch, you're a little fuckin pussy. you deserve shit.

Peter William Goodwin
Peter William Goodwin

Thank god the general public doesn't make these decisions. Barbaric species.

McShyster
McShyster

How's that Thug Life working out for you now, eh punk?


JFlannigan
JFlannigan

There dozens of factual errors in this sensational story.  But conveniently overlooked here is the fact that Clark was ALSO convicted of ANOTHER murder -- his second senseless killing was a witness that he helped orhestrate and commit frominside  jail.  Really, is there any wonder he is in solitary?

stanley1
stanley1

@glwrightsr76 I don't give a shit nor care to live a day in Willie's shoes, and no one has to shut the hell up. He's a thug and a murderer, and I could give a shit about who turned and why. You're right, though, Williams wasn't innocent, he was a thug too. Aint thug life grand?

stanley1
stanley1

@nuclearlemon Correct, and all you have to do is read the few 1st grade level posts to know the mentality of his "family". 

stanley1
stanley1

Why are there so many fucking deniers/enablers in the hood? This little bitch and all of his bangin friends can get fucked, slow and hard. Fucking pussies with guns.

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

It's obvious none of you people know nuttin about co doc, plenty of BRONCO fans, but they jus fans, knock it off

luckyruthland
luckyruthland

He was actually wrongly convicted for that crime too how can a person be at two places at one time. It's crazy how people are quick to judge someone just because you read or herd it somewhere

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

No worries I'm not tryin to get you or no1 to sympathize wit Willie, everyone has an opinion, so you are right, no1 has to shut the hell up.

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

Stanley you talk real tufff on the internet fella, if some of willies friends did wanna get fucked up or however you put it, is yo scary ass gonna do it? UR A JOKE BUDDY and an internet coward

stanley1
stanley1

@luckyruthland Sure....all of it was "wrongly convicted". What a fine upstanding citizen Willie was. Baby mama?

stanley1
stanley1

@glwrightsr76 Most people who aren't enablers, apologists, and frankly, care about what happens in their communities, judge people harshly who harm others. Apparently, as long as someone's your homeboy, any actions they commit, including destroying lives, get excused. And people like you wonder why their communities are in tatters.

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

NO WORRIES FELLA, WE ALL PEOPLE KNOW OUR CONSEQUENCES IN LIFE. RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WRONG IS WRONG. AT THE END OF THE DAY, I COULD CARE LESS WATCHU OR THE NEXT PERSON THINK. YOU ARE A VERY JUDGEMENTAL PERSON, YOU DON'T KNOW ME, I'M NOT A GANG BANGER AND FAR FROM A PUSSY BUT YEAH WILLIE IS MY HOMEBOY

stanley1
stanley1

@glwrightsr76 Ah, so you're part of the disease contributing to the destruction in our communities. Good for you, bro....I bet you feel pretty good about that. That's some stand-up shit right there. No wonder that POS Clark is your homeboy.

glwrightsr76
glwrightsr76

STANLEY ALOT OF GANG BANGERS ARE PUSSIES, IF U WOULD LIKE 2 MEET 1 THAT'S NOT, I'M WIT THAT (REALLY),

stanley1
stanley1

@glwrightsr76 If it was man to man without a gun, i'd love to. But you and I both know that these bangers are pussies with guns and it would never happen. You're probably one, too. People like you get handled and then come back with a gun and your boys because you're cowards. But yeah, you're so tough because you and your boys bang around your hood with numbers and guns, then just pull the trigger and become just another idiot statistic behind bars. Yeah, real manly shit there, dude. Been there, seen it, done it. You're a dime a dozen.

 
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